We work so hard to keep our bodies healthy, free of allergens and GMO’s and pesticides and all the other things we stay away from on our mission to healthy living. But sometimes, no matter how hard we work, we get sick. September of this year was my month to catch a cold. I had just written newsletters on prepping for flu season to all my clients at my day job. Me? Sick? I was in shock since I didn’t think I had been exposed.. much.
What else can I do to fight this since my body apparently thought it was time to slow down? (had it not seen my work schedule?) So I tried a couple of things and wanted to share with you my successes on my crazy journey through cold season. I have compiled a list of all the things you can add to your arsenal of weapons against colds and flu this season for you and your whole family. I’ve compiled a list of foods, supplements, support practices, things to avoid and even a spiritual tip (yes, really). For your convenience, I have included some affiliate links. For my full disclosure please click here. So let’s get to it. I don’t know about you, but I have little time for a cold!
My favorite thing to do is to feed a cold. Now this may not always be an option (especially if you are nauseated). I say trust your instincts here. If you don’t feel like eating then don’t. Ketosis has been used for centuries to heal the body during times of sickness. So If you don’t feel like eating, try fasting or just drinking bone broth. If you only want a bit of food, then stick to organ meats or small amounts of protein and vegetables in your broth for the nutrients and detoxification support. However, an upset stomach may need easier to digest foods- like applesauce, avocado and broth. If you do choose to eat then try to incorporate some of these foods- especially in your broth, where you can strain the solids out and just drink the nutrients.
easy to digest and full of nutrients and detoxifying amino acids
anti-bacterial and anti-viral
anti-inflammatory and used for sore throats and colds in many cultures
detoxifying, anti-bacterial, alkalizing and great on a sore or itchy throat.
antibacterial and detoxifying. Wild blueberries are best.
antibacterial, helps with local allergies (must be local honey), is great for soothing sore throats
detoxifying, Immune-boosting, and helps with inflammation that causes achiness.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
If you are not nauseated, then smoothies or juices may digest more easily. Bananas are known for aiding in diarrhea. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are also a great source of vitamins that your immune system needs to function, like vitamin c. Sulphurous veggies pack an extra punch by supporting your liver to get rid of excess toxins- like viruses. Watch the fruit intake however as too much sugar of any kind can cause inflammation (making sore achy joints worse) and possibly depress the immune system- so stick to whole fruits instead of juices. Think applesauce instead of apple juice, for instance.
The right supplements can help support a healthy diet and immune system but some are better than others for supporting getting well from a cold or the flu.
Quality is everything here. Many probiotic aren’t worth the bottle in which they are sold. Here is the brand that I suggest.
This amino acid is an anti-viral. It is commonly used to keep the herpes virus suppressed but is very useful in any virus treatment to help your body kick some serious virus-butt! I suggest taking 1000 mg per day during the course of a virus. This brand is allergen and additive free.
Immune booster extraordinaire. Sidenote: Most Vitamin C products are made from Corn. If you have a corn intolerance/allergy or are trying to avoid corn products then I suggest this supplement for a whole food source (if you can tolerate tapioca and cherries) It is very effective and as it is made from whole foods, it is not only effective but has no side effects at larger doses (1000 to 5000 mg per day during the course of a virus or other health crisis. For maintenance I suggest taking about 1000 mg a day). If you are looking for a tapioca-free and corn-free Vitamin C then this one is the one that I use. It is easy to break open and place into a smoothie for larger doses or to take by mouth for maintenance doses. However, because it lacks the processing agents that other brands use in manufacturing (not listed on the ingredients), it may clump. However, simply putting it in the blender will fix that in seconds.
This boosts immune function and is a great natural antibiotic. I suggest this form here. For those on an AIP regimin, beware of this option. It can be an immune stimulant and is considered a reintroduction. For some, they will do well with this and others it will tax their immune system too much.
I would ONLY use this if an infection is evident. If you start with the anti-bacterial foods before an infection then this should be unnecessary. While this is gentler than a pharmaceutical antibiotic, it is still hard on your good bacteria and will require some effort to restore your gut health after using. Again, I suggest getting some direction from a functional medicine doctor before using this. Also, an antibiotic (this qualifies) does not treat a virus. I use this one here
These contain a small amount of sugar (3 grams) but I think it is completely worth it as they are not sweet and feel amazing on your throat, boost the immune system and help digestive health. They contain no allergens but may contain black pepper and seeds(not AIP compliant)
These contain Slippery Elm which is touted as being a sore throat remedy. I was pleased to see no corn, gluten or other ingredients that were non -AIP compliant including preservatives. Because these also contain sugar, I limit my use of these to when absolutely necessary. When my throat was sore or my cough was active I would sleep with one of these (not good for the teeth but I only needed it for 1 to 2 nights) to keep my throat from keeping me awake all night.
Viruses and Allergies all are identified by the body as a toxin. Supporting the liver is going to help your body get well. Whether you use sulphurous vegetables, or tea like this one or a supplement like this, any liver support is a good idea.
Various oils can help with cold and flu such as tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, frankincense, lemon and lavendar. I like to put frankincense in my bath (detox baths are great for when you are sick, but get out carefully or you can faint if your bath was very warm!) and in my diffuser I like a mix of peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree (the magic 3) with optional lemon or lavender oils. The magic 3 could also be used on a handkerchief to inhale or in a diffuser or bath bomb or on your pillow. You may also choose to rub these on your chest (dilute with coconut oil) for chest congestion. If applying directly to the skin, make sure to use a carrier oil to avoid skin irritation. I prefer coconut oil so that I can use these as a balm anywhere on my body. Thieves or On Guard are also good blends to use on the bottoms of the feet, or diffuser. Peppermint is always great to put on your head if a headache is present.
ALTERNATIVE FEVER REDUCERS AND PAIN RELIEVERS
While we are all trained to take ibuprofen and aspirin for our aches and pains and fevers, these otc medications are very hard on our body, reducing our ability to detoxify, harming our gut health and undoing all the hard work we put into trying heal and get healthier. But there are alternatives out there. Using alternative anti-inflammatories like turmeric or other anti-inflammatory blends (talk to your functional health care provider for options) can give you ways to reap all the benefits of taking these without the harm. In fact, taking these blends can not only help you to reduce the fever, but also aid in detoxification and gut health- instead of setting you back in your healing journey.
Just as Turmeric and Ginger based blends can replace ibuprofen for some, willowbark is a great replacement for aspirin. Although it has all the same precautions as aspirin (do not use if you would not use aspirin without consulting with your functional medicine doctor first), it can also be helpful in reducing both fever and aches and pains in adults.
As always, check with your functional health care provider before taking any supplements to make sure they are right for you. Read all ingredients carefully and do not take anything you are allergic to or that makes you feel badly.
Here are some other things you can do to support your immune system to help you get over a cold or virus.
Regular adjustments help your immune system and organs function properly including gut health, the liver, the thymus and any other part of your body controlled by the central or peripheral nervous system. A misalignment can impede the flow of energy or information that runs through the nerves just as pressing on a garden hose would impede the flow of water. Making sure everything is where it is supposed to be can ensure your body is running its best. When I get sick, the first thing I do is go for an adjustment.
HOT DETOX BATHS
(Avoid if you are running a fever) Run a warm bath as hot as you can stand (make sure you get up slowly afterwards as the heat can cause blood pressure to drop and result in dizziness or passing out). Fill with one cup Epsom Salts or Flakes (flakes are better for those with MTHFR gene mutation), 1 tablespoon vitamin C powder and 1/2 cup of baking soda. You can also add some diluted eucalyptus oil for clearing sinuses. Get in the bath and stay in as long as you can. If you start to feel weak or fatigued, don’t be alarmed. The heat may induce a fever which will boost your body’s ability to fight off a virus or infection. It will also detoxify you and help your body get rid of toxins. Warning: always get up from a hot bath slowly as it drops the blood pressure and can cause fainting.
This the time to sleep extra and often. Sleep is when our body heals itself and without sleep our immune system gets weaker. Notice that you are worse at night and better in the morning? It is because sleep is that big of a factor in getting better.. or worse.
This practice comes with the same warnings and benefits as a hot detox bath. Proceed with caution but it may really help to detoxify. Because of the intensity and tendency to increase body temperature and feelings of weakness or faintness, I suggest only using this when you are “fighting” a cold and do not actually have a full blown virus. Overheating or fainting would be a risk if you use this when you are running a fever or if you are already prone to low blood pressure.
YOGA AND MEDITATION
There are some poses that help detoxification and boost the immune system. But be sure not to exert yourself. This is not time for a workout. You need your energy to heal right now but one or two poses or some light stretching and meditation may feel good. Do what feels good and no more. This brings me to our next section:
Things to avoid.
It is tempting to “refuse to be sick” but doing so may prolong how long you are sick. This is the time to avoid the following:
SKIMPING ON SLEEP
See above. You need to heal.
INTENSE EXCERCISE OR EXERTION–
your body is working hard to heal. Don’t increase its load. Some light stretching, restorative yoga or a stroll is fine if you are up to it but don’t feel obligated to get a “good workout in” but instead take this time to rest and pamper yourself.
EAT A BUNCH OF JUNK OR SUGAR
Sugar lowers your ability to fight anything. Junk food effects you similarly. Either eat the best you can and fill your body with vitamins and nutrients or fast and go to ketosis to heal. But trust your body, if you feel you need to eat, then do- but choose the best you can choose. Applesauce is much more helpful than saltine crackers and both are easy to digest.
DON’T INTERRUPT YOUR BODY’S NATURAL PROCESS OF HEALING.
-Your body is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. Letting your body fight an illness without pharmaceutical intervention will make it stronger against a bigger virus or infection down the road. If it isn’t life threatening, let the body do its job. If you are unsure what is safe for you or a loved one then see your doctor and ask them if it is dangerous for you to let your body “do its thing”. Which brings me to my spiritual tip.
Look at the big picture- the universe may be trying to tell you something.
Getting sick may be the universe’s way of telling you to take a few days off of your hectic schedule. You deserve a break.
If you are sick much more than others then it may NOT necessarily a sign to take a short break (maybe a long one?) but to instead enlist the help of a functional medical doctor to dig deeper into why you are always getting sick and fix that. In that case, open your eyes to the red flag that is waving at you. My point is that there IS a bigger reason than “crap happens”. True, the message may be as simple as “wash your hands more“, but there is a message. I encourage you to seek the answer and listen before the universe gets much louder and much pushier with your health.
When I came down with multiple autoimmune and a neurological syndrome, the universe was forcing me off the path that was making me sick (and unhappy too). It had given me several signs to change my ways and get on another path. The universe was trying so hard to tell me that there was something so much better out there for me. It forced me onto another path that led to health AND success. But I had to look for that reason. My cold: it was just telling me to relax and rest and slow down a little. I was being too goal oriented and loosing sight of things in front of me (like my family). Whatever your illness is telling you needs to be heard by you. Only you can hear the message the universe is sending. So you if you are sick. Be sick. Focus on getting well and take a day or two off from everything else. It may be a blessing in disguise. So make the most of it.